The Psychedelic Furs played their hearts out as the audience danced, sang, and laughed along, spreading their glee from one person to the next at Red Butte.

The Psychedelic Furs with X @ Red Butte Garden 08.04

Show Reviews

Red Butte Garden is such a beautiful place to spend an evening. I always love the opportunity to sit with a band as it plays the sunlight to sleep, ushering in the night and all the fun that comes with it. The crowd to see The Psychedelic Furs at Red Butte seemed to embrace the opportunity as well and brought their energy. Most attendees were young in the 80s and are now in their 50s and 60s, but one could never accuse this crowd of not being full of the same wonder and enthusiasm they possessed decades ago. They danced, sang along and laughed, spreading their glee from one person to the next. It was exhilarating.

X opened for the Furs, which was an amazing and unique opportunity. Most people aren’t familiar with X’s sound and the influence the band had on the early Los Angeles punk scene and punk music in general, but it appeared the Red Butte crowd knew what they were witnessing. Longtime X bandmates John Doe and Exene Cervenka tore it down on stage. They ran through a ton of classics like “True Love” and “Nausea,” while also playing newer songs that sounded right at home, like 2020’s “Water & Wine.” Doe called the show “a punk rock picnic,” and that is honestly the perfect way to describe the night. And X was only the beginning.

The Psychedelic Furs came onstage to happy cheers from happy fans. The band kicked off their set with “I Wanna Sleep with You” from 1981’s Talk Talk Talk, followed by a newer track, “You’ll Be Mine,” from 2020’s Made of Rain. Richard Butler’s vocals have always been a signature aspect of the Furs’ music, and he still sounds fantastic. He said hello to a swooning mass of fans, exuding vigor and consuming it all at the same time, before diving back in to another couple of songs, including “Cigarette,” “The Boy That Invented Rock & Roll” and “Wrong Train.”

As I generally do between bands, I watched people interact. I liked this crowd. As I mentioned, it was mostly kids from the 1980s, all grown up, appearing to be successful, clean cut, drinking good beer and wine while wearing top-dollar outdoor gear. Still, there was a sense of non-conformity, and I could also see it in the young people the older fans brought with them. I heard a little girl wearing a shirt that read “Pretty In Pink” ask her dad, who had some rockabilly boots with cuffed jeans and a Ramones t-shirt on, if he thought the Furs would play “Love My Way,” and he replied that he hoped so with a smile and nod of reassurance. It was nice to know that the older crowd still loves their tunes and are passing them down in the best of ways.

About a third of the way through the set, the band started a song that everyone knew. The whole place fell hush as the band dove into “The Ghost in You.” People embraced, swayed together and sang along, quietly alive. I feel music is a time machine and one of the most effective. I know how certain songs played live can take me away to other times, times to which I’ve attached the song: a summer, a specific night with a specific person, an entire relationship. I always wonder where everyone else is being taken. From the looks, most of my concert-attending peers were somewhere happy.

Nostalgia was in the air as the show continued. “President Gas” and crowd favorite, “Pretty in Pink,” were next as the band members seemed to hit their stride. Butler ran the stage, working for all the love he was receiving. It was clear to me that he still loves doing this, and I feel lucky to have been there. 

The band played a handful of newer tracks from their last album. “This’ll Never Be Like Love,” “No One,” and “Ash Wednesday” were all well received, with many singing along, indicating that impactful albums are still very much a part of The Psychedelic Furs MO.

The last handful of songs were all crowd-pleasing favorites. “Love My Way” and “Heaven” were the last songs before the encore. People didn’t have too much time to gather their things before the band came back onto the stage to play themselves out with their most successful single, “Heartbreak Beat.” 

I was happy the young lady got to hear her song.  I hope she loved it and I hope one day she hears it again and that it takes her back to Red Butte Garden on a beautiful August night with her father when she heard the song live for the first, and, perhaps final, time. –Billy Swartzfager

Read more show reviews:
The Revivalists @ Red Butte 08.01 w/Ryan MontBleau
Caamp @ Red Butte 7.27 w/Futurebirds